Google has announced that this summer they will begin testing their self-driving vehicles on Mountain View’s public roads. Google’s latest autonomous car is a pod-like two-seater which needs neither gas pedals nor steering wheels.
Earlier this week Google’s self-driving Lexus RX450h SUVs were called into question regarding their safety so the company intends to reinforce the amount of testing they have already performed. For now the prototypes have scored almost a million autonomous miles on the testing tracks and recently they have been driving 10.000 miles each week on their own.
The intention is for the cars to be able to operate totally free from human interaction. However Google said that the cars are provided with removable controls so that the driver can take over if things do not go well. On top of that current California regulations require cars to have a gas pedal and steering wheels and the driver to be able to control the car at any time.
Sergey Brin, Google co-founder, said that the company’s ultimate goal is to develop computer-controlled cars which can eliminate human error. Mistakes that drivers make are estimated to cause 90% of the 1.2 million road deaths which occur every year all around the world. Autonomous vehicles are also a good way to transport the disables and the old persons and moreover improve traffic congestion. In addition in the following years Google has announced that they plan to provide their prototypes with small pilot programs which can learn what drivers would like to do.
For the beginning Google will test 25 pods in the area surrounding the company’s headquarters in Mountain View. Eventually they will build 50 to 100 pods which and the testing sites will be extended to areas which are rainier and hillier.
Google’s self-driving car project director, Chris Urmson, says that this slow-moving prototype which resembles a koala is a good transitional stage between the present test fleet of 20 Lexus SUVs and the future faster and more advanced models which won’t even look like anything which can be found on the road today. He remarked:
“This vehicle is really all about us learning. This vehicle could go on a freeway, but when we think about introducing the technology, we want to do that very thoughtfully and very safely.”
When the cars will be on seen on the streets of Mountain View, they will be limited to 25mph. the prototypes are controlled by the same system used by the Lexus test models, but Google has announced that they want to reveal unique challenges to a fully self-driving car.
Image Source: mashable.com